Twenty short years ago, Santa Rosa-born Marilyn Kentz was pinching herself to be starring with Petaluma pal Caryl Kristensen in the NBC-TV comedy, "The Mommies."
When we met for coffee the other day, Marilyn, still funny and still performing at 66, was prepping for her first stage show since the unexpected death of her husband, Richard, on April 25.
"It goes into the show; it has to," she said.
Her constantly evolving comedy-music-wisdom act, "Will I Ever Wear a Bikini Again?" plumbs the surprises and vicissitudes of aging. To have her heart crushed by the loss of her husand of 34 years — Richard collapsed at their home in Berkeley when she was away — is something she'll wrestle with on stage.
Marilyn seems ready to take it on at her 8 p.m. performance Friday at the Wells Fargo Center. And the Baby Boomer from Montgomery High — Class of '65 — clearly looks forward to sharing the performance with four local women she recruited to sing with her as The Boomerettes.
Someone else might call them a backup chorus. Marilyn praises them as her cover-up vocalists.
She said, "I needed someone to cover up my horrible singing."
MARIA DE LOS ANGELES is another much-talented Sonoma County woman who went away and is happy to be coming home.
Maria is the young artist whose family disintegrated after her parents slipped into California from Mexico when she was 10. Her father vanished and her mother lived on the streets as she studied hard and focused on art at Elsie Allen and then Santa Rosa High.
From SRJC, Maria went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on scholarships and the proceeds of selling her art. She has just concluded her first year in the Master of Fine Arts program at Yale.
The Sonoma County Museum has hired her to work this summer in a program that takes art and storytelling to low-income, immigrant residents unlikely to come into a museum.
"A lot of the parcipants have never been in an art class before," said the Sonoma County Museum's Cynthia Leung. "Some have never had a paintbrush in their hands."
Maria, now 25, will assist artists Mario Uribe, Fred Vedder and Michele Bottarro with workshops at SRJC's Southwest Center. They'll help participants paint life-size outlines of themselves and embellish them with symbols and images of their joys, challenges and aspirations.
Maria's Spanish will be an asset to the workshops the program — that and her obvious verve.
ART IS THE THING also for 17-year-old Amelia Ketzer-Dean, who days ago smiled proudly at the dedication of the vibrant, fanciful mural she painted for the quad of small Grace High School, on the campus of Piner High.
The piece features the Grace mascot, a green fox.
"I can only hope it inspires everyone else to follow their passion," said Amelia, who graduated on Friday and will work this summer creating beauty as an apprentice with ArtStart.
One of her nearly bursting teachers, Jay Berry, told the mural dedication audience, "I think that someday I'll be known as the guy who taught Amelia Ketzer-Dean."
He said he looks forward to that day.
THEN THERE'S LIZZIE: At the final assembly at Santa Rosa's Spring Creek School, third-grader Lizzie Beiswanger presented checks to volunteers of two busy food pantries.